Ardglass church wall collapse leaves huge hole in side of home as insurers dither
A Co Down couple have been living with a massive hole in the side of their house after a church wall collapsed onto it.
John and Noreen McCartan have had no heating or hot water for a week in which temperatures dipped.
The couple were in bed at their Kildare Street home in Ardglass last Monday when they heard a loud noise at around 3.30am.
"John and I were both in bed, and we thought we heard a knock at the door," said Mrs McCartan.
"I thought there must be something wrong - surely nobody would come to the door at that time of night.
"So we got up and put on our dressing gowns to go to the door, but there was no one there.
"John just happened to open the door into the room facing the church.
"He said to me: 'Noreen, the room's wrecked!'" He was ashen, Mrs McCartan said.
"I walked into the room and I couldn't believe it," she added.
"There was full 50 tons of rubble in it, where the church wall had come through the wall of our house.
"Big stones, rubble - the room's destroyed."
Mr McCartan's cherished collection of vintage Fender and Gibson guitars was destroyed, buried under the deluge.
"We rang the Fire Service, and they were great," Mrs McCartan added.
"They turned off the oil feed to the boiler, which I would never have thought of.
"They told us to stay out of the room for safety's sake.
"And it's just wide open to the elements, vermin, burglars, anything could come in."
A week later the roof is starting to sag as the weight bears down on the weakened ground floor structure.
"You can see it getting worse," she said. I don't want to cause offence or make trouble - we're not that kind of people.
"But no one seems to want to take responsibility or do anything to help us.
"The clergyman from St Nicholas's came round the next day, and he said it was lucky we weren't killed.
"But we've been left like this since last week. We've no heating, no hot water.
"How can you get yourself properly washed? It's embarrassing.
"Everybody's been sympathetic, but nobody seems to want to make the first move.
"We didn't disturb anybody, but this wall is now in my home."
The couple have been trying to keep warm by using a blow heater.
"I've towels along the bottom of the doors and a wee heater, but it's not doing the job," said Mrs McCartan. "It's freezing."
She added that her insurers had told her that her policy did not cover damage caused by a falling wall.
"They said: 'If the impact was caused by car, a plane, a cow, or a flying object we would have been covered, but not by a wall."
The Dean of Down and Rector of Ardglass, the Very Reverend Henry Hull - who visited the McCartan's home the day after the wall collapsed - said last night that the Church was in contact with its insurers several times last week, pressing for an early resolution to the family's predicament.
He added: "We are very sympathetic and have offered advice and support to the McCartans, and will continue to do so as we work to resolve this issue with both our own and the McCartans' insurers."